WHO says properly cooked chicken, eggs not risky
( 2004-02-03 14:55) (Agencies)
Eating thoroughly cooked chicken and eggs is safe and is unlikely to cause bird flu, the World Health Organisation and doctors said on Tuesday.
"Our feeling is that chicken and eggs, properly cooked, doesn't seem to present a threat of infection," said Robert Dietz, spokesman for the UN agency in Hanoi.
He was asked to comment after a hospital in Vietnam said on Monday an 18-year-old boy died of what it said was bird flu, after eating chicken killed by the H5N1 virus.
The WHO has not confirmed the boy died from bird flu, Dietz said on Tuesday. Eight more people in Vietnam have died of bird flu, and three in Thailand.
In Bangkok, infectious diseases consultant Mondej Sookpranee said it was too early to tell if the virus, which has been reported in 10 countries, could be spread by eating cooked poultry.
"This case in Vietnam has not been confirmed by the WHO yet. We have to wait for their verdict," said Mondej, adding that questions of how the disease is spread -- including the mechanism of human-to-human contact -- still needed to be answered.
"Even cases of human-to-human transmission are in question," he added. "Direct human-to-human contact is a possibility, but not certain. Getting it from consuming affected chicken is the same. The information is still incomplete. We must wait for what the WHO says."
But he reiterated the WHO view that eating well-cooked poultry was safe: "The virus is very sensitive to temperature. So eating chicken that is well-cooked is still perfectly safe."
In Bangkok, WHO spokesman John Rainford said it was safe to eat chicken cooked to an internal temperature of 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees F).
Tran Tinh Hien, deputy director of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in southern Ho Chi Minh City, told Reuters on Monday: "We know that he (the boy) ate chicken that died from the bird flu virus. His family had a farm that was infected by the flu."
Hien said the boy was the only one of his family who fell ill and was admitted to hospital with "serious pneumonia".
The boy was a member of the K'ho ethnic minority from Lam Dong province in
the Central Highlands.
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